The Anonymous Widower

Scottish Government Is Considering Plans To Electrify The Borders Railway

The title of this post is the same as that of this article in The Scotsman.

These reasons are given for the electrification, of the Borders Railway.

  • Electric trains would shorten journey times.
  • New Class 385 trains would be more reliable than the current elderly diesel trains.
  • It would be an easy line to electrify, as the line was built so that overhead electrification could be added without any gauge enhancement.

I would add a few reasons of my own.

  • The route is already electrified as far as Newcraighall station. This would probably ease the grid connection  to the new electrification.
  • I believe that electrification of a new railway, where everything is known an well-documented has a higher change of being delivered on time and on budget.
  • Running Class 385 trains may also produce operating and maintenance savings.
  • The Class 385 trains are serviced at the convenient Millerhill Depot.
  • Electrification might help running trains across Edinburgh.

If and when the Borders Railway is extended to Carlisle, there could be very good reasons to electrify the whole route.

I will answer a few questions.

How Much Time Would a Class 385 Train Save?

Currently, trains between Edinburgh and Tweedbank currently take fifty-five minutes with seven stops.

The Class 385 trains will probably save a few minutes at each stop, so this will make the journey time a bit shorter and turnround at each end of the route will be more relaxed.

How Long Is The Section Without Electrification Of The Borders Railway?

The distance between Newcraighall and Tweedbank stations is 30.75 miles.

How Challenging Is The Borders Railway?

It is not the easiest of routes, but it is not the most difficult either. It also has a high summit.

The current diesel trains don’t seem to be working that hard, when I’ve used the railway.

Would Electrification Be Difficult?

If I look at electrification projects over the last few years in the UK, they have been delayed and suffered cost increases because of the following.

  • Difficulty of raising bridges over the route.
  • Connecting to the electricity grid.
  • Surprises like unexpected sewers and mine workings, when installing the electrification.

Hopefully, as the Borders Railway is new railway, that is already partially electrified, this will not be a difficult electrification.

Could the Current Route Be Served By A Battery-Electric Train?

This is the big question, as it were possible, then the current Borders Railway may not need to be electrified.

In Hitachi Plans To Run ScotRail Class 385 EMUs Beyond The Wires, I talked about Class 385 trains with batteries, that #Hitachi are proposing.

Hitachi have said this.

  • It would be straightforward to add batteries to give a range of twenty miles on batteries.
  • Sixty miles would be possible but more difficult.

I believe that a safety-first way to run a battery-electric Class 385 train on the Borders Railway would be to do the following.

  • Procure a sin-fleet of Class 385 trains, with a range of forty miles on onboard batteries.
  • The trains would handle regenerative braking to the onboard batteries.
  • A charging station would be provided at Tweedbank station.

The only new infrastructure would be the charging station, which I believe should be based on Vivarail’s design, which I wrote about in Vivarail Unveils Fast Charging System For Class 230 Battery Trains

  • Currently, trains take just under ten minutes to turn round at Tweedbank station, which would be time enough to charge the battery.
  • Vivarail’s system is fully automatic, after the driver stops the train over a length of third-rail electrified track, which is only live, when a train is connected.

Hitachi would need to fit third-rail shoes to the trains, but then they could use the design from their Class 395 trains.

Conclusion

There is currently no need to electrify the Borders Railway, if Hitachi can do the following.

  • Fit batteries to a Class 385 train, to give a range of forty miles.
  • Design a fast charging system and install it at Tweedbank station.

I also believe that if and when the Borders Railway is extended to Carlisle, that there could be a strong case for electrification of the whole route.

Running battery-electric Class 385 trains on the Borders Railway would be a project with a lot of winners.

  • Hitachi would have a scenic demonstration route, close to a major well-connected international city.
  • The Borders would get a better and more environmentally – friendly train service to Edinburgh.
  • Scotrail would have a higher proportion of one class of electric trains.

But the biggest advantage could be the possibility of terminating Borders Railway services on the other side of Edinburgh, at perhaps Stirling or Dunblane.

 

 

 

June 19, 2019 - Posted by | Transport | , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.